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03.21.16

Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom Urge Benoît Battistelli to Allow Independent Investigation of His EPO Union-Busting Moves

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An article from a national broadcaster in the Netherlands sheds some interesting new light on what happened at the delegates’ meeting last week

THE coverage of EPO scandals is not slowing down because the media is still actively investigating and pursing these increasingly serious matters.

According to “Battistelli is teruggefloten” (it’s behind a paywall, so here is a PDF copy), there’s some new noteworthy information, which we highlight below:

Battistelli brought back into line

European Patent Office

The Member States of the patent office want President Battistelli to be fair.

Eppo König

The disputed punitive measures the European Patent Office can use against employees will be revised. Sources confirm that on Wednesday, apart from 12 abstentions, 26 of the 38 Member States of the Organisation “unanimously” voted in favor of fair sanctions.

The international organisation having 7,000 employees, with a branch located in Rijswijk, examines patent applications and grants European patents. The President of the Office, the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli (65) is under pressure because of his “authoritarian” management style. During a critical first interview with Secretary of State Martijn van Dam (Economic Affairs, PvdA [the Dutch Labour party]) at the beginning of March, Battistelli became angry and ran away, NRC reported this week.

The Administrative Council, the supreme body comprising 38 member states, including the Netherlands, has repeatedly expressed “serious concerns” about the dismissal and demotion of three members of the SUEPO trade union and the staff representation. So far, Battistelli showed himself not receptive to criticism. In leaked minutes, the board of the Administrative Council describes the situation as “a crisis.”

Being an international organization, the Patent Office says not to be bound by national labour law. Battistelli also does not recognise the SUEPO staff union, which represents half of the total staff. The Patent Office has its own disciplinary procedures and an internal investigation unit which investigates workers.

“Battistelli ran away angry during a conversation with State Secretary Van Dam”

The Administrative Council, which met on Wednesday and Thursday in Munich, instructed Battistelli to be fair with disciplinary procedures against workers. The president should consider an external audit, mediation or arbitration. The Council calls Battistelli and the trade union to resume social dialogue and to reach an agreement. The president has welcomed the content of the resolution says the Patent Office.

It is unclear what happens to the trade unionists who have been penalised for a “damage campaign”. The Dutch Elizabeth Hardon, chairwoman of SUEPO Munich, was dismissed and her pension was reduced. Her predecessor, Ion Brumme, was also dismissed and the union’s treasurer, Malika Weaver, received a salary cut. Other members of the union have received official warnings.

In Munich, the Member States The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom recommended to investigate whether these sanctions have been fair.

The union’s lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, calls Battistelli to reverse the dismissals and the demotion. “Battistelli abuses of his authority and power if he nevertheless decides to attack the three union officials,” said Zegveld. “He thus acts in direct contradiction with the explicit wish of the Member States to improve social relations and to protect the union.”

The paragraph before the last (above) is seemingly unique. We suppose there was fact-checking involved because the publisher is a leading Dutch paper/broadcaster.

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